Native Giving

Sust’ainable Molokai

Sust’ainable Molokai
PO Box 250
Kaunakakai, Hawaii 96748

You can support traditional knowledge and green practices to restore the legacy of `Āina Momona or an abundant land for our people.

Sust'ainable Molokai seeks to restore Molokai to the food- and energy-secure island of the past by supporting local agricultural and renewable energy resources from the island, for the island.

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Mission and Values

Our Values:


Sust’ainable Molokai is a grassroots nonprofit organization committed to restoring the island’s health and abundance, or ‘aina momona. We aim to achieve this comprehensively via four thrusts: Food Self-Sufficiency, Economic Security, Energy Sovereignty and Environmental Sustainability. As the only island-wide nonprofit organization focusing on these priorities, our vision is broad but our staff is purposefully small and efficient to maximize durability and resilience. We carry out this work through on-island expertise, targeted professional development internships, volunteerism and broad-based partnerships driven by common goals. We are grounded in our heritage, guided by our culture, and driven by modern and responsible sustainability strategies.


Our Mission:

The people of Molokai integrating the island’s legacy of `āina momona (abundant land) with modern sustainability concepts to build a SUST `ĀINA BLE MOLOKAI rooted in traditional knowledge and supported by emerging green practices and industries.

Our Vision:

Our guiding vision is that we work toward a Molokai that once again is the `aina momona. That we have a rich and diverse culture, strengthened through our food security, energy independence and an environment that is restored to be healthy and thriving. We see that the community has a respect for the island and everyone who lives here, that we foster an understanding of our limited resources and work in cooperation for a better life together built on these principles. We also acknowledge that with climate change – as an island and part of an island state – we need to come together to create a model of innovation on Molokai that can be replicated throughout the state and region to help mitigate climate change.We also acknowledge that with climate change – as an island and part of an island state – we need to come together to create a model of innovation on Molokai that can be replicated throughout the state and region to help mitigate climate change. We explain this as the four pillars to restore `aina momona, which are food, economy, environment and energy.

Our Story

Farm to School on Molokai
(November 2015)

Happy, healthy, thriving children is the vision that we at Sustʻāina ble Molokai keep in our hearts, and it’s why we put so much of our effort into implementing and improving our farm-to-school programs.  We aimed to share this vision as we celebrated the governor’s proclamation of October 2015 as Farm-to-School Month.

Farm-to-school programs consist of three primary areas of focus:  (1) school gardens, (2) procurement of local foods into school meals, and, (3) education around gardening, cooking and nutrition. Molokai has all of these aspects being implemented at varying degrees in our island schools. Sustʻāina ble Molokai is proud to be a part of those programs, with our two new FoodCorps members, Tara Sakamoto and Marlena Nip, leading the charge.

So far this school year, we returned to Maunaloa Elementary to set up our programs for the year, which include nutrition classes to educate students about the benefits of various fruits and vegetables, incorporating hands-on projects with the students to establish more food gardens into the school campus, and ‘Ohana Nights where families can get ideas for gardening and cooking healthier on a budget. In addition, the FoodCorps service members will be supporting the school’s wellness committee in its goals towards a healthier school community.

At Kualapuʻu Elementary, we have begun conversations to see how we can learn from and assist their already outstanding farm-to-school program, which include numerous productive garden beds around campus.  In September, FoodCorps did a pilot first attempt) at introducing the fresh fruit provided to students as part of the fresh fruit and vegetable snack program. Tara and Marlena presented the white nectarine fruit and shared its nutrition information through a fun activity that visually illustrated the different body systems that white nectarines support.

At Molokai Middle School, Kumu Kelly Richardson’s classes have started on a project to transform a portion of sloped ground on campus into a terraced food garden. Her classes have already cleared away the California grass that covered the slope and Kumu Kelly is now designing carved terraces with the help of Sustʻāina ble Molokai’s Fred Richardson. And Tara and Marlena will assist Kumu Kelly with incorporating native canoe plants as well as other foods into the terraces. The service members also plan to grow vegetables in the school’s garden beds with the students taking the lead on that kuleana. In this program, students are challenged to think critically about food security and measures we can take to sustain the island’s food supply.

During November 2015, our team will be in Kaunakakai Elementary implementing an after-school program called Growing Healthy, which we piloted last school year.  This program consists of an after-school program that runs several weeks and will focus on activities related to school gardens and nutrition education.  In addition, we will host 2 ʻOhana Nights to get whole families involved.

Finally, Sustʻāina ble Molokai continues to maintain our two-acre permaculture farm on the Molokai High School campus, where students and community are invited to volunteer and learn about permaculture and gardening.
Farm-to-school programs encourage career pathways related to farming and food-related industries. This pathway extends even beyond farming and students can learn more about the many job opportunities available in this field. The hope is to encourage the younger generation to take on the kuleana of caring for the land so that the health of the aina and its people is perpetuated for generations to come.

Garden Whisperers

In this time and age it is really difficult to find anyone under the age of 60 who really has that special talent for gardening that our school garden coordinator refers to as “Garden Whispering.” However, in partnership with the high school and in particular with teacher Rick Ornelis and his small class of youth with special gifts, we can see that these students may have the “garden whisperer” edge. These are students who have been slipping through the cracks, but thanks to the teacher (kumu) and the access to the permaculture farm, Kumu Rick has been able to give the students a hands-on experience to develop gardening skills. They now come out to the farm twice a week. They look at the soil and are always full of questions like: When are the seeds going to come up? What kind of bugs help the plants grow? How soon can we eat it? Just this past week they harvested 15 pounds of sweet potatoes. They were so that they were careful to harvest every last one. We look forward to seeing what they will be able to accomplish for a whole year with their garden bed.

Our Work

We work to provide education, economic development and empowerment in the areas of food security, energy security, restorative agriculture and conservation, and community organizing.

Our programs currently include the Molokai School Garden Network and the Molokai Food Hub. Through the school garden network we help bring education and hands-on learning into Molokai classrooms, from kindergarten through grade 12. What began in the winter of 2010 as a permaculture training workshop at the Molokai high school quickly turned into a permaculture demonstration site on two unused and overgrown acres behind the school. This is now an eight-terraced “food forest” with green waste composting and a bamboo structure for the new Molokai food hub. We serve hundreds of youth a year on the site, including a special education class that comes out twice weekly to work its own garden bed. Through this site, we will be able to secure local produce for the fresh fruit and vegetable program that the youth – with the assistance of the FOODCORPS members – will harvest and package. Farm to cafeteria!

Energy Security

Sust’ainable Molokai has partnered with Blue Planet Foundation to run several projects focused on energy conservation and efficiency. We began with Hui Up 1, which traded out 40,000 incandescent light bulbs for CFLs in 2010. Next, we implemented Hui Up 2 in 2011 and 3 in 2013-4, which traded out 364 old refrigerators for new Energy Star refrigerators.

We work with and train local youth in providing small energy audits for the program, so that households can see the exact cost and energy savings before the new refrigerator is installed and are able to track their energy use afterward. In the spring of 2014, we published the Molokai Energy Assessment, which provides a broad overview of the state of renewable energy from global drilling down to a very local community perspective. For the assessment, we surveyed 200 random community members on the subject of their energy and their perceptions on what types of renewables will work for our small community of Molokai. We are currently using the energy assessment as a roadmap to engage the community in order to help develop and promote renewable energy projects on the island – as Molokai pays the highest amount per kilowatt-hour in the U.S.

Contact Us

Phone: 808-560-5410

Organization Contact:

Emillia Noordhoek, Executive Director